This is a prop I built for a Star Wars party. I didn't want to spend a lot, but I did want it to look cool.
I know that there are some incredibly talented folks who put years of effort into making awesome R2D2 and other droids, but I wanted something inexpensive and I only had a few months until the party. So rather than use sheet metal and fiberglass, I used mostly cardboard and wallboard joint compound. I also use a lot of stuff that I had in my junk-box.
Yep - that was once a used refrigerator box!
Step 1: R2D2 frame and covering
Google image search is great!
Here's a site that I found very useful: (especially the Autocad .DXF files)
I acquired a few refrigerator boxes at a local retailer and got to work.
I created a frame for the body, then wrapped the cardboard around the frame.
This is a bit tricky. You'll need to soften - but not drench - the cardboard by spraying it with water and letting the moisture soak through the layers. When it's sufficiently soft, you're ready to wrap it around the frame. Apply hot glue to the edges of the frame and attach the softened cardboard sheet to it. I recommend that you get some assistance with this step.
It has a few inconsistencies, but we'll compensate for that later.
Step 2: Cutting out and assembling the legs
I then assembled the leg with several long strips of cardboard, softened as before, and wrapped around the sides of the leg. Patience is key, letting the softened cardboard form to the shape that you want. I'm getting better with the use of the hot glue gun!
To help keep the two halves of the leg separated by the proper distance, I tacked in a 2x4 piece of lumber temporarily between the two halves of the leg.
I later ended up gluing a 2x4 in permanently, but it was oriented so that when assembled with the body, I could put a long wood screw through the wood, and securely attach it to the body -- which had another piece of wood glued into it's inside.
The cardboard however, has an un-mistakable look of... cardboard. I decided to cover the legs and the body with wallboard joint compound and sand it flat. This covers a number of goofs and bumps.
Step 3: The Body - Altering my plans
Step 4: Building the head
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before I put on the paper mache, so you'll have to imagine what the ribbed cardboard looks like.
The downside of the ribbed method is that the ribs show through. so it is going to get several coats of wallboard joint compound to make it more spherical.
In hind sight, I should have spent more time looking for a balloon. The ribbed method never got perfectly spherical.
To give the paper mache more strength, I coated the inside with a layer of expanding foam.
Between the cardboard, hot glue, paper mache and a lot of wallboard joint compound, the head is getting rather heavy.
Step 5: Smoothing the body and adding details
I found a drawing of R2D2's body detail, so I printed it out and attached it to the body so that I could make the appropriate marks where the boxes would go. I made a few masks for spray painting and covered up areas that were to remain white.
A sharpie and a straight edge were all i needed to draw the outlines.
Step 6: Spray painting R2D2's Head
I laid out the design details and sprayed on the blue then carefully removed the tape when it was dry.
Step 7: Adding details to R2D2's head
The Red/Blue circle was made from a scrap of PVC pipe, and I attached a translucent piece of Plexiglas to the PVC. SO how does one make it blink?
At the dollar store I found a flashing LED gadget that contains 3 colored LEDs. I gutted the gadget for it's circuitry and installed it into the PVC tube. But since I only wanted red and blue, I removed the green LED and added another red LED in its place.
And finally the projector that R2D2 uses to project the memorable holographic image of princess Leia saying "Help me Obi Wan... You're our only hope"
Ok, so mine doesn't project anything, but I used a short piece of metal tube from a discarded vacuum cleaner and a fishing bobber painted gray.
Step 8: Attaching The Legs
As I mentioned earlier, I glued some solid pieces of wood on the inside of the body, and the inside of the legs. This way, I can run a couple of long wood screws through the leg and into the body.
After the screws were in, I covered up the holes with a piece of decorative trim.
Step 9: Final assembly
I was concerned that R2D2 would be a little top heavy and possibly fall over, but it appears that the large feet keep it steady.
Now all that's left to do is install a MP3 player with some amplified speakers and some appropriate sound effects.